Australia's latest stadium may be dedicated primarily to rugby but it earned its Stadium of the Year nomination without a doubt. The airy, yet hurricane resistant venue brought new quality to Townsville.
The stadium was built on the site of Monkey Island's former industrial estate, south of the city centre. The multi-functional facility was created together with public access ways and two pedestrian footbridges, one connecting with the city and the other over the rail corridor. The plot on which the stadium is located is 17.3 hectares.
Queensland Country Bank Stadium is a joint project of the Queensland Government, the Australian Federal Government and Townsville City Council with the support of the National Rugby League and North Queensland Cowboys. Queensland authorities spent A$ 193 million (US$ 147 m) and the federal government paid A$ 100 million (US$ 73 m).
The venue was part of the Townsville City Deal, which entered into force in December 2016. Construction of the stadium began on August 16, 2017 and took almost 2.5 years. The creation of the facility required 23,000 tons of concrete and 190,000 bricks and just over 2,500 tons of structural steel for the roof.
The stadium replaced the Willows Sports Complex, which opened in the 1990s on the outskirts of the city. On December 12, 2019, a 6-year agreement was concluded regarding the naming rights of the stadium. The name of the venue will be Queensland Country Bank Stadium for the next 6 years from the date when the contract was signed.
On February 22, 2020, the stadium was opened to visitors, in fact those visitors were local taxpayers, because they financed the construction of the facility. Two kilometres of beer pipelines were installed to quench their thirst. Seven days later, there was an Elton John concert. It was the first mass event at the stadium. Townsville residents had to wait another two weeks for the first match. On March 13, the local team faced Brisbane Broncos in a rugby match as part of the NRL.
Queensland Country Bank Stadium provides 25,000 seats for NRL games. The possibility of increasing the capacity to 30,000 has been retained, and during the concerts at the facility it will be possible to seat up to 40,000 spectators.
Townsville's stadium has a distinctive layout with a wide opening facing northeast, where the city centre is situated. The only stand without a roof is the one-story North Stand. The South and West Stands have two levels. The upper tier of the West Stand is a space filled with suites (17) and sky boxes (88).
The shape of the venue is emphasized by a cantilevered roof resembling a horseshoe. Such styling refers to pandan leaves. Their symbol, almost rhomboidal, is also consistently present around the stadium, including brickwork. Lighting masts were abandoned in favor of lamps installed in the roof.
The roof structure protects approximately 80% of the seats from rain and is resistant to hurricane winds, which are a common weather phenomenon in this part of Australia. Thanks to the single-tiered stands in the northern part of the stadium and the lack of a roof in that place, the city centre can be seen from the remaining stands.
Each of the 36 roof trusses has a different geometry, dimensions from 24 to 42 metres and weighs from 18 to 55 tons. The assembly process took 14 days and was carried out with a 400-ton crane typically used in the mining sector.
Around the stand entrances from the inside of the stadium, there is a 9-metre-wide promenade, which allows fans to move freely along the 600-metre circumference of the facility. Part of the northern entrance to the venue is a square with lots of greenery, which is a meeting place for supporters before the game. The scoreboard measures 200 square metres and is one of the largest in the southern hemisphere.
The facade of the stadium is airy, which makes the underside of the stands visible. Diamond concrete blocks on the outer part of the stadium face downwards, have a clear outline, are at equal distances and fulfill the function of protection against wind. They are connected to the roof structure.
Author: Tomasz Sobura